A lot of us have heard about the color theory at some point in elementary school and then, like Algebra and the periodic table, sorted it into the back of our minds ever since. Things like primary colors (i.e., red, yellow and blue) and concepts like lightness, saturation and hue sound familiar even if we can’t place them.
Color theory, though, is all around us and can actually breathe a lot of new life into your home, apartment or workplace. That’s because color theory and the color wheel that we’ve all seen dictate what colors work together to create a certain mood and which colors clash to put a damper on the festivities.
Color Theory Fundamentals for Your Next Project
Today there are even apps out there to help you find the palette and best color combinations – whether you’re looking to combine pieces of furniture, spruce up a room with some colorful pillows and blinds, or repaint your entire apartment to give off a certain vibe.
The cool thing about these rules is that they’re applicable across a wide range of projects since the same colors that work for appliances, tables, and couches also work for painting. In fact, you should be keeping the rules we’re going to go over – color theme guidelines, if you will – in mind with everything that you do. Let’s get started:
Complementary Color Schemes
What’s really popular and edgy right now are complementary color schemes because you can use one background color as the dominant shade in your overall design and another (preferably more attention-grabbing) color as your accent in a room or office.
So, how does this all work in practice? You basically select two colors that sit diametrically opposed to one another on the color wheel and run with it. A great example that you see at least once a year are red and green going together around Christmas time. Just realize that a complementary color scheme can definitely make a statement since you’re heightening the contrast.
Birds of a Feather: Analogous Color Scheme
If you’re not looking to make that much of a splash with the colors you use, or you’re going for more of an understated look in a second bedroom or home office, then you might want to look into using an analogous color scheme for your walls, accessories, art frames or main furniture pieces.
In contrast to the complementary color scheme, an analogous color scheme has more of a calming effect since none of the colors should be conflicting with one another – as long as you choose three colors sitting right next door to one another on the color wheel.
As an example, lime, sage (darker green) and light blue or azure can usually be paired together in one room in a way that’s fun and modern yet calm and relaxing. You’ll definitely still want a dominant color for the space, though, and then a pair of support colors to lend a little more flavor.
Split-Complementary Color Schemes
Here are some split-complementary color schemes: the idea here is using the two colors adjacent to the opposite of the complementing color.
So, for instance, you might pair an orange and a light purple with a green or two tranquil blue shades with a more vibrant orange (all going by the color wheel). You typically want your base shade to be the dominant flavor in the room and, from there, use more sedate color variants of your accent colors.
The split-complementary color scheme is considered less risky than using complimentary colors, although each can work depending on your project.